The original movie was written and directed by the French filmmaker Luc Besson
and was released in 1990. Anne Parillaud
starred in the title role and put in an absolutely unreal performance
Nikita is a young drug addict who is cornered by the police during a robbery she and her friends are committing. In a psychotic haze of heroin craving, she proceeds to grab a gun and liquidate most of the policemen, which marks her out as a potential candidate for a secret police unit specialising in assassinations. She is given a choice between death and joining the cadre.
Besson portrays Nikita as a complete tabula rasa, a person with no personality. She in violent, but not belligerent, vicious but not malicious. She has no conception of normality or sociability. Out of this malleable putty her educators create a killing machine, superficially glazed with a layer of elegance and manners (Jeanne Moreau is chilling and awesome as her deportment coach). The relationship between Nikita and Bob (Tchéky Karyo), her mentor and the agent personally responsible for her training, is a convoluted, intense, symbiotic struggle between a prisoner and her jailer, a creator and his masterpiece, a rebellious child and a an inscrutable father figure with his own, palpably dangerous, agenda.
Much has been extrapolated on the relationship Nikita forms with Rico, a young man she meets in a supermarket soon after she finishes her training and moves out of the underground compound where it took place. The healing powers of love, the redevelopment of individuality after military indoctrination, the craving for normality. For myself, I found Rico to be a non-player in the overall scheme of the movie, and their relationship pretty much a non-event. Parillaud's Nikita is feral, raw and completely unselfconcious. She is an explorer of life in the same way a baby is - she will touch, taste and take a part anything that comes in her way (in a tour de force of acting, she even has baby-like body language and mannerisms) - including sex and emotion. For her, the relationship is just another exploration, an exciting adventure, a novelty like every other aspect of a life which she is unfamiliar with.
The ultimate statement of the movie is about individuality and freedom - when was Nikita most free? When she was a homeless slave to her drug addiction? When her inherent power and violence were first tapped? When she finally graduated out of the almost sadistically regimented psychological constraints of the training facility? When she gave free reign to her emotions and passions with Rico? Or, just maybe, she was at her most wild at the end, when her bonds with everything - the drugs, Bob, Rico, violence - are finally and irrevocably broken?